Town Property Assessments Likely to Climb

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By: 
Kevin Murphy

TOWN OF MIDDLETON–Residents will see much larger property evaluations this summer, perhaps by $100,000 or more, due to a state-required re-evaluation of properties in the town,

Town Administration Greg DiMiceli said his assessment increased by $100,000, according to the Access Dane website, and Town chair Cynthia Richson said hers went up $111,000.

A call to Town Assessor Paul Musser regarding the hike in assessments wasn’t returned by deadline.

At Monday’s town board meeting, DiMiceli explained that the town assessor determines property values and that most of the property in the town is expected to increase as the town needed to conduct a property re-evaluation.

The Department of Administration requires each municipality to be within 10 percent of market value of taxable property once every five years. Assessed values are used to distribute the municipality’s tax burden among the individual property owners.

“We were on the cusp, statutorily, and we needed to get this done,” Richson said.

The assessment notices were scheduled to be mailed on April 6 but have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, said Town Clerk Barbara Roesslein.

Instead, the notices will be mailed by June 30 with the Open Book review period held from July 1-31. A Board of Review to determine challenged assessments will he held August 11.

Richson wanted the Board of Review to be held by conference call or through a website similar to Zoom, depending on the status of the covid-19 pandemic.

Even if there is a drastic increase in property assessments, DiMiceli said the increase in property tax bills are restricted under the state’s levy limit law, which has averaged about one percent in recent years.

The town will no longer be clearing snow in front of cluster mailbox locations to limit liability from damage by snowplows.

“These are quite expensive (to replace) in the thousands of dollars,” said Richson.

Although no cluster boxes have been replaced, Richson remembered several individual mailboxes damaged from snowplowing in previous winters, and wanted to do something before damage occurred.

Town policy limits reimbursement for plow-damaged mailboxes to $50.

“We’re passing the buck to the neighborhoods,” Board supervisor Richard Oberle said.

“We’ll tell residents that our drivers won’t get that close to the mailboxes,” supervisor Brent Renteria said.

To accommodate postal delivery, residents are currently responsible for clearing snow 15 feet from either side of their individual mailbox within 24 hours of each snowfall. 

Cluster mailboxes are mounted on a pedestal five feet from the edge of the road pavement road and can serve 16 or more residents. The newly approved ordinance informs residents that the town will not be plowing the five foot setback in front of the cluster mailbox, which puts the responsibility for snow removal on homeowner associations.

The town board approved an update to the Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (CORP), which eliminated a large park on the town’s south side, and a dog park from the wish list of park improvements.

Park fees are assessed on lots in new developments and are based on the estimated cost of providing parks and amenities. In conjunction with adopting a new CORP, the board increased the park fee, which now includes a fee for recreational trail development from $2,255 to $2,378. Richson noted that fee increase is lower than the increase in the Consumer Price Index during the past five years. At that time, the board lowered the park fee from an excess of $4,000 to $2,255.

In other action:

• Carol and Andy Phelps were named “Friend of the Town” for their $50,000 contribution which prompted the town to put solar panels on the roof of town hall. The installation is expected to be completed by July and cut the building’s energy bill by 80 percent.

• Deferred until the May 4 meeting, a request by Walser Electric to amend the Comprehensive Plan and rezone property along Rocky Dell Rd. for a commercial building.

• Town Clerk Barbara Roesslein reported that 59 percent of the town’s registered voters cast ballots in the April 7 primary election.

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